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Easter Roast lamb with lemon potatoes April 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Here’s an indoor take on the spit-roasted lamb that anchors the traditional Greek Easter dinner.

Ingredients >
3- to 4-pound leg of lamb
2 lemons
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
2/3 whole head garlic, unpeeled
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water

Method >
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the lamb in a large roasting pan. Rub with half a lemon and sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano. Place the potatoes and garlic around the meat and salt them lightly. Drizzle the olive oil over the meat and potatoes. Combine the juice of the remaining lemons with the water and pour over the potatoes. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender. To serve, allow the roast to rest for 10 minutes, then carve onto plates and serve with the potatoes, garlic cloves and some of the roasting juices as gravy. Makes 6 servings.

Greek Orthodox Easter April 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Greek Taste World.
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Like many others in her native Greece, Andrea Zourzoukis, 63, would break the Lenten fast after midnight service Easter morning with mayiritsa soup. “When I was in Greece, as a little girl, we went home after the service and the soup was ready,” she said about the traditional blend of lamb, rice and herbs.

On Easter day, the centerpiece of the feast in Greek Orthodox communities is roast lamb, which is served with dishes such as tsoureki, a braided bread that surrounds dyed red eggs. “When you crack the egg, it brings new life, for the resurrection,” she said.

Local diners who want to sample the centuries-old culinary traditions of Easter in Greece don’t have to return to the old world, but can grab at table at Pomodoros Greek & Italian Cafe or another eatery that features these foods. Pomodoros in East Asheville will have mayiritsa, tsoureki, roast lamb and other specialties from Greece on the menu Easter Sunday.

“I get excited to showcase these foods from Greece,” said owner Tommy Tsiros, 38. “It’s flavors customers may not see anywhere else.” The leg of lamb is served with roasted lemon potatoes, and the soup has the thick consistency of a stew. The significance of lamb is tied to the symbolism of Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” Tsiros said. Along with their distinct flavors, the dishes represent a heritage. “There’s so much to a meal that’s more symbolic than just the flavor,” he said. “These foods reflect our culture.”

George Zourzoukis, Andrea’s nephew, who runs Three Brothers restaurant with two cousins, will be at a large family gathering on Easter where a lamb will be roasted over a spit. “We’ll have three generations that will be together,” he said. Three Brothers regularly serves a lamb special on Fridays and Saturdays, where the meat is baked in a tomato-based sauce with bay leaves, oregano, onions, garlic and chopped vegetables, George Zourzoukis said.

Members of Asheville’s Greek community said the Easter culinary traditions of their ancestral home will continue to be celebrated by future generations in Western North Carolina. “These traditions will be passed on,” said Tsiros, who is doing so with his children. “When you grow up with this, it’s who you are.”

Some local restaurants serving flavors from Greece:

Athens Restaurant, 247 N. Main St, Weaverville, 645-8458.

Apollo Flame Bistro, 485 Hendersonville Road, 274-3582, or 1025 Brevard Road, 665-0080.

Bay View Seafood, 3751 Sweeten Creek Road, 684-0279.

Filo Pastries & Coffee, 1155 Tunnel Road, 298-9777.

Little Venice, 800 Fairview Road, 299-8911.

Mediterranean Restaurant, 57 College St., 258-0476.

Pomodoros Greek & Italian Café, 1070 Tunnel Road, 299-3032.

Three Brothers, 183 Haywood St., 253-4971.

A taste of Greece at the dinner table April 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Penelope Kotidis doesn’t speak much English, but she makes herself understood. “Watch, watch,” she urges a visitor who has come to observe Greek specialties in the bright, airy home she shares with her son, Petros ; daughter-in-law, Nina Balodimos ; and two grandchildren for half the year when she isn’t living in Athens. As Kotidis comes to a crucial step in the recipe, she wants to be sure to demonstrate exactly how it’s done.

On this brisk day, Kotidis is preparing stuffed vegetables with bright, colorful bell peppers and tomatoes. Through Balodimos, who is acting as translator, Kotidis apologizes for the winter tomatoes, nothing like what you’d get in summer, and nothing like what you’d get in Greece. “Greek tomatoes are amazing,” says Balodimos. “The meat is better here, but the vegetables are better there, in season.”

Kotidis, 75, learned to cook from her mother. But the cuisine of her hometown of Kozani in northern Greece, isn’t what most Americans think of as typically Greek. “It was more meat, beef and pork mostly, in sauce,” says Kotidis. “We were not near the ocean, so fish was hard to find.” The family had no refrigerator, but it was cold in winter, so they stored food outdoors. One regional specialty was a dish made with lamb spleen, which Balodimos once attempted to re-create. “Do you know how hard it is to find lamb spleen around here?” she asks, laughing. The heavy dishes of her childhood, says Kotidis, are rarely prepared nowadays; even at home, they’re considered too rich and time consuming.

On Greek Easter, this year celebrated on Sunday, the same day as Western Easter, the family will go all out. After midnight Mass on Saturday, they’ll eat Mageiritsa, a soup made from lamb’s liver and intestines. On Sunday, they’ll roast a whole lamb outside on a spit. They’ll also enjoy Tsoureki, a sweet bread prepared now during Holy Week, that Balodimos says rises three times and is “very hard to make.”

Of course, weekday fare is quite a bit simpler, but still traditional. Kotidis’s stuffed vegetables, accompanied by feta bread, are “relatively light and generally appealing,” says Balodimos, an obstetrician and gynecologist who is also an accomplished home cook. “Those other dishes are an acquired taste.”

Yiayia’s feta bread, “yiayia” is Greek for “grandma”, comes together quickly. Kotidis cracks the eggs against each other, adds corn oil and feta, and stirs the batter gently. “It won’t rise as much if you beat it hard,” says Balodimos. She pops the muffin-tin of little breads into a hot oven, then lowers the temperature after a few minutes. “That’s very crucial,” says Balodimos.

Next, the stuffed vegetables. They aren’t complicated, but require attention. Kotidis is precise and adamant about just how the tomatoes and bell peppers should be trimmed, first hollowing them with a knife, then a spoon. And, she says, it’s very important to keep the tops attached by a hinge of skin. It’s a bit tricky, given how thin and delicate tomato and pepper skins can be, but Kotidis does it with a sure touch.

She rinses the chopped onions and rice before adding them to the filling, and she makes little sandwiches of sliced potatoes with filling that’s leftover, and places those around the stuffed vegetables. These steps aren’t absolutely necessary, but they help turn a good dish into a great one.

Golden muffins, tangy with feta, are the perfect accompaniment to juicy stuffed vegetables. Lamb spleen and fermented stuffed cabbage may have their place, but this is a dish the family enjoys year round, says Balodimos. When the meal is served, Balodimos’s mother arrives, and her 11-year-old daughter joins the group at the table, too. This extended family is a close one: “There’s no word for ‘privacy’ in Greek,” says the translator.

Find the recipe for Greek stuffed tomatoes and peppers under our Recipes category (Food and Drinks Section).

A chance to see Kremlin Ballet’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ April 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
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Performances will take place at the Pallas Theater from April 13 to 16

Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Sleeping Beauty” has a long and memorable history. It was Rudolf Nureyev’s debut in the West, the first appearance of George Balanchine on stage and the ballet that made Galina Ulanova decide to become a ballerina. Next week, the highly popular ballet will go on stage at the Pallas Theater in Athens, from April 13 to the 16, as performed by the Kremlin Ballet. The production retains Marius Petipa’s classic choreography and features young ballet stars in the leading parts: Kristina Kretova, Sergei Smirnov, Natalia Balakhnicheva, Alexandra Timofeeva, Sergei Vasychenko and Aydar Shaydullin.

The story begins when the wicked fairy Carabosse is overlooked in the invitations for the christening of King Florestan’s daughter, Princess Aurora. Outraged, she arrives at the palace and places a curse on Aurora: She declares that when the princess turns 16, she will prick her finger and then die. But after the intervention of the good Lilac fairy, the princess is instead condemned to a deep, 100-year sleep, which can only be interrupted by the arrival of a prince.

Under the artistic direction of Andrei Petrov, the Kremlin Ballet revives classic ballets but also stages more recent productions. Hence, alongside Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake,” one can find Vassiliev’s “Cinderella” as well as Grigorovic’s “Ivan.”

The Pallas performances are organized by the Elva and Spectacles companies.

Pallas Theater, 5 Voukourestiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3213100. For tickets and reservations, call 210 6728080 and 210 3246888.

Contemporary works of art shine light on the past April 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Artist Costas Varotsos has designed installations for the Benaki Museum

In ‘Janus/Infinity,’ Costas Varotsos has placed a marble double herm from AD 75-100 in between two mirror constructions. Once an object enters a Museum’s collection it becomes a part of history. Yet Museum acquisitions were not originally made for the purpose of being displayed and examined from the distance of an historical perspective. They were integrated into people’s lives and were understood not necessarily through the intellect but in a more experiential, direct way.

The installations that Costas Varotsos has designed for different spots throughout the exhibition halls of the Benaki Museum and for the courtyard of the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street Annex bring back something of that lost vitality of Museum objects by pairing a select number of them with contemporary art which acts as visual cues. In the project “Future Seen through the Past,” curated by Charis Kanellopoulou, Varotsos creates imaginative associations and fosters a sense of cultural continuity that is firmly rooted in the past as well as looking forward to the future.

Most of the art is meant to arouse the senses. In “Feast,” the artist has placed glass vessels in an early 19th century wooden press from northern Greece and filled them with wine. The scent of alcohol brings to mind images of rural life and connects the cauldrons and wine presses on display with their original function.

In the same room, the video image of the surface of the sea as it glitters under the light is projected on a 19th century drawing of a Greek vessel. The visual effect of a floating boat enlivens the past and brings about a fairy-tale sense of magic.

The most exciting video projection has been placed in the two “period rooms” of the Benaki Museum that reconstitute the mid-18th century interiors of northern Greek mansions. In each interior, Varotsos has combined light and video to create a ghostly hovering presence.

Other works are more conceptual. The rock-like glass formations that appear underneath the small opening of a wooden, hand-painted trunk from 19th century Northern Epirus may be taken as a sad reminder of life’s ephemeral quality. It is likely that they symbolize the earth to which our treasured personal possessions we keep for posterity will all return.

Another example is a wire construction placed in front of an Attic grave stele. The intersecting lines of the construction are probably meant as an abstract rendition of the axes that define the sculptural composition of the ancient Greek stele.

Blending contemporary art with the past can be a risky task, yet Varotsos has pulled it off with skill and discretion. Arranged in a way that avoids distracting one’s attention from the original artifacts, his installations evince respect for the past but also suggest a concern with making this past more interesting and familiar to the contemporary viewer.

“Costas Varotsos: Future Seen through the Past” at the Benaki Museum, 1 Koumbari Street, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 3671000, through June 3. On Thursdays, the Museum is open until midnight.

Related Links > http://www.benaki.gr/index-en.htm

Buildings designed in a new style April 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Books Life Greek.
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Fifty buildings designed by Greek architects post-1990 have been gathered together in “Contemporary Architecture in Greece,” a publication by Architecture in Greece publishers. The book is not newly published, yet is still one of the few publications on the subject of Greek architecture.

According to the architect and publisher Orestis Doumanis, author of the book’s introduction, the past 15 years have witnessed the emergence of new architecture in Greece. Influences from late modernism and minimalism are typical of the new style and so is a turn away from the language of regionalism and international architecture, both of which have pervaded Greek architecture for many decades.

The book includes works by architects who are considered to have introduced this new style to the Greek urban landscape. Most of the projects presented have been published before in specialized periodicals but are presented here together for the first time. The book includes private dwellings but also several public buildings, among them the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki, which was designed by Kyriakos Krokos, and the Exhibition Center at the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Center, which forms part of the Foundation of the Hellenic World, designed by the Anamorphosis architecture team. Interestingly, the architects behind the projects belong to different generations, with Nikos Valsamakis being the oldest among them. Despite their age differences, all the architects are considered to work within a similar architectural mode. An essay by architect Panos Dragonas analyzes this broad-ranging style and examines how various developments, changes in education, society, politics and the public sector, have had an effect on the emergence of this new stylistic idiom. Informative and visually varied, the book is a reflection of the freshest tendencies in Greek architecture.

A laggard in new technologies April 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Telecoms.
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Greece lies last in several indices in Europe in the use and penetration of the Internet, broadband services

Greece has fallen further behind in the development and use of new technologies, as illustrated by two reports published this week.

According to the annual report by the European Commission for 2007, Greece is at the bottom of the European table in the penetration of broadband Internet access, while its growth in 2006 and 2007 is not enough to bridge the gap with other countries. Internet use is also low, although third-generation cellular telephony and digital television are showing some momentum in Greece.

This country is last by some distance in the use of the Internet for educational purposes. Greek schools have by far the lowest percentage of access to broadband Internet, while teachers make minimal use of it. The index of information technology knowledge is particularly low among Greek workers.

Furthermore, there is hardly any progress in the domain of electronic government, where Greece ranks even lower than in previous years. This index, along with those of innovation and investment in research and technology, are the most important, as the first portrays the use of Internet infrastructures to serve the citizens while the other two record economic development through use of new technologies. Greece’s backward steps in e-government definitely require a closer look and more active involvement by the bodies concerned.

At least there is a positive evaluation of Greek policy for bridging the digital gap, as some growth toward an information society has been recorded. On the other hand, the report mentions that the measures announced remain at the very early stages, while one of the key points is the acceleration of their application.

Separately, a World Economic Forum report ranks Greece 48th among 122 countries according to the Networked Readiness Index for 2006-2007, down from the 43rd spot in 2005-2006.

The Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) referred to the WEF report, suggesting that the worst performance is in the cost of administrative regulations, the funds spent by companies on research and development, the extent and the impact of taxation, the availability of high-risk capital and the time required to set up an enterprise.